Stay Healthy In Ramadan
The immune system defends against infectious organisms and other invaders. Through a process called the immune response, the immune system attacks substances that invade body systems and cause disease
Types of immunity
Everyone is born with some natural immunity that serves as general protection. For example, many of the viruses that cause disease in other species don’t affect us at all. And animals are born with natural immunity that protects them from susceptibility to human diseases. Innate immunity also includes the body’s external lines of defense, like the skin and mucous membranes that prevent disease from entering the body.
Adaptive immunity develops throughout our lives and is the sum of our exposures to disease as well as our vaccinations against diseases.
Passive immunity is a short-term or borrowed immunity from a person, typically a child’s mother. For example, maternal antibodies are transferred to a baby through the placenta. It can also be induced artificially through injections that contain targeted antibodies.
The primary components of the immune system
- The tonsils and the thymus
- Bone marrow
- White blood cells
- Lymphatic system
Natural approaches to support immune system function
- Exercise and the immune system (Engage in moderate exercise )
- Sleep (Get enough sleep )
- vitamins and trace minerals (Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Zinc, Selenium, iron)
- Avoiding the use of tobacco and chronic consumption of alcohol
- Eat more whole plant foods (Whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes are rich in nutrients and antioxidants)
- Limit added sugars
- Stay hydrated
- Manage your stress levels (Relieving stress and anxiety is key to immune health )
A healthy Ramadan
Drink plenty of fluids, choose fluid-rich foods to make sure you are well hydrated for the day ahead, and go for starchy foods for energy, choosing high fiber or wholegrain varieties where possible as these can help keep you feeling fuller and can aid digestion, helping to prevent constipation. Below are some examples:
- Oats – these are whole grains and you could choose porridge, which will also provide fluids as it’s made with milk or yogurt or overnight oats
- High fiber breakfast cereals – these provide plenty of fiber and are often fortified with vitamins and minerals, providing extra nutrients. Because they are consumed with milk, you also get fluid and nutrients like calcium, iodine, and b vitamins from the milk.
- Starchy foods like rice, or couscous – you could try rice pudding with fruit or experiment with couscous or other grains with dairy or fruit. If you go for savory dishes at suhoor then it’s a good idea make sure these are not too salty or they may make you very thirsty during the fast.
- Yogurt – this can be a good food to include at suhoor as it provides nutrients like protein, calcium, iodine and b vitamins and also contains fluid. You could combine it with cereal and fruit
- Bread – go for wholegrain options as these provide more fiber, for example, whole meal toast or chapattis. Avoid combining bread with salty foods like hard cheese, or preserved meats. You could try nut butter (without added salt), soft cheese, or banana. As bread is fairly dry, make sure you drink plenty of water or other fluids alongside or you could have fluid-rich foods such as a lentil soup, which is a traditional food at suhoor in some countries.
- Drinks – water, milk, fruit juices or smoothies – water provides hydration without any extra calories or added sugars. Drinks based on milk and fruit provide some natural sugars and nutrients – these are also good to break the fast but avoid drinking a lot of drinks with added sugars after breaking the fast as these can provide too much sugars and calories.
- Dates – traditionally eaten to break the fast since the time of the Prophet Muhammad, dates are a great way to break the fast as they provide natural sugars for energy, provide minerals like potassium, copper and manganese and are a source of fiber. You could also try other dried fruits such as apricots, figs, raisins or prunes, which also provide fiber and nutrients.
- Fruit and vegetables it provides natural sugars for energy, fluid and some vitamins and minerals.
- Soup – Traditional soups are based on a meat broth and often contain pulses, like lentils and beans, and starchy foods like pasta or grains
- Replace fried foods and sugary desserts with healthy alternatives
- Use minimal salt for cooking and instead add herbs, spices, lemon, garlic and other seasonings
- Citrus fruits
- Red bell peppers